MicroPairing Technologies LLC has turned to the Central District of California for its second round of cases over patents previously asserted by Eagle Harbor Holdings, L.L.C. and MediusTech LLC against Ford. The plaintiff has sued Honda (2:21-cv-04034), Hyundai (8:21-cv-00881), Kia (8:21-cv-00882), and Mazda (8:21-cv-00885) there. October 2020 defendants GM and Toyota have each filed separate motions to dismiss MicroPairing's inducement of infringement claims before District Judge Alan D. Albright. Toyota has also challenged three of the seven patents asserted against it as invalid for lack of written description, arguing that the plaintiff is collaterally estopped from contending otherwise, based on that prior litigation against Ford.
Targeting wireless device connectivity and vehicle software management within vehicle infotainment systems, MicroPairing was formed in Texas on May 27, 2020, with Darrel Dola, Kirk Ewasechko, and Phillip Mitchell as its managing members. It received more than three dozen patent assets from MicroPairing Technologies Ltd. (f/k/a 2230755 Alberta Ltd.), a Canadian corporation under at least overlapping control, as Ewasechko signed the document moving the assets to the Texas entity in apparent preparation for litigation in the Western District there.
The plaintiff has asserted seven of those patents (6,629,033; 6,778,073; 7,793,136; 8,380,383; 8,583,292; 8,953,816; 9,697,015) against GM and Toyota, hitting the four new defendants with all but the '033 and '383 patents, as well as one other asset (7,178,049). Toyota points to the jury verdict in the Ford litigation—in which the prior plaintiffs originally asserted 11 patents, four of them eventually taken to trial—for its claim to issue preclusion. Noting that claim 1 of that patent (8,006,119) was ruled invalid for lack of written description (based on "downloading or moving" limitations) and that the '136, '292, and '816 patents recite claims that "contain the same 'downloading or moving' limitations" previously at issue, Toyota asks Judge Albright to dismiss the infringement claims with respect to those three patents. In opposition, MicroPairing counters, among other things, that only a "pro forma judgment", entered by the clerk, followed the jury's verdict, not a "final and appealable judgment"; thus, collateral estoppel does not apply.
Citing previous work with prolific publicly traded NPE Acacia Research Corporation (as VP of Engineering and Senior VP Engineering with Acacia Technologies from January 2008 to February 2018), Mitchell identifies himself on social media as the president and founder of Validity LLC—an Irvine-based patent monetization firm formed in California in March 2018, apparently just after his departure from Acacia. Ewasechko indicates that, years after getting his start as a residential and commercial developer, he has served as the "President; Chair: Board of Directors" with MicroPairing since December 2019. He and Dola (as comanagers) formed Neoteric IP Inc. in Texas on May 22, 2020; Ewasechko identifies himself as having been president, chair, and cofounder of Neoteric IP (of as yet uncertain operations) since this past June. Ewasechko lives in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada. Dola is also based in Alberta, identifying himself as "President at Beverage International Distributor".
The Canadian MicroPairing acquired this patent portfolio in November 2019 from Northwater Intellectual Property Fund L.P. 2, a Northwater Capital Management company, which collected the assets from Eagle Harbor that same year after that entity's default on a loan for which the intellectual property served as collateral. Eagle Harbor surrendered the portfolio just over four years after its litigation in the Western District of Washington against Ford ended.
The plaintiff is represented by Nelson Bumgardner Albritton PC in Texas; Hatch Law PC, in these new cases. MicroPairing has disclosed both firms, as well as Neoteric IP (as an "investor") as nonparties having an interest in the outcome of the litigation. For further background on this campaign, see "Portfolio Unsuccessfully Asserted Against Ford, Under New Ownership, Spawns More Litigation" (October 2020). 5/12, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, 5/13, Honda, Central District of California.
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